Monday, December 31, 2007

Sometimes Life is Hard to Swallow

This week, I bought one of those cheap checkout-counter women's magazines, because it had cute hairstyles on the cover (I'm looking for a new 'do.) And inside I find this 3 day liver detox/fat flush "plan." Usually I think this stuff is garbage, but since I have eaten nothing but sugar for the last 38 days, I thought maybe, just maybe I would give it a shot. And Jennifer Garner/Affleck uses it. So it must be good because she's all gorgeous. I'll look like Jennifer Garner in 3 days. Watch and see - I will! We'll look like twins :-P

So, Day One consists of drinking only water and "Miracle Juice." Geez. Not MY name for it, I assure you. It's a mix of pretty normal sounding stuff mostly, like water, cranberry, orange and lemon juices, with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Throw in an oddball herbal supplement that I couldn't find exactly and some "natural" sugar substitute, and now we're cookin'. It smelled pretty good, so I had high hopes. I took my first sip of 492 of this stuff (well, maybe just 400), and discovered that it tastes a bit like Russian tea. Cold russian tea. Yuk.

But, I've gone to the trouble of making this concoction, so I decide to press on. I'm driving to work, finishing my first cup, when I get to the bottom. What was swirling around in there was all the spices , etc. that did not dissolve. It looked pretty gritty and not at all appealing. I was tempted to dump out those last few gulps, but decided that those things were put in for a reason: presumably a benefit. So I closed my eyes, and swallowed the rest. And it wasn't so bad, as long as I didn't look.

And then this thought occurred to me. The things we encounter in life may be good for us, but may also be hard to swallow. We may think we need a promotion, but God says, "You're not ready." We may want more, but God says, "You need to be content with what you have." We may desire a relationship with someone, but God says, "That's not the one I chose for you." We may say, "I don't want to do that. It's too hard." And God says, "It's too hard for you alone, but not if you ask Me to help."

Sometimes God's answers to what we want are hard to swallow. But His answers are always best.

So, as the New Year arrives in a few short hours, I'll share my hope for 2008. Not just for me, but for you as well:

I pray that we learn to be grateful for the blessings God has given us. I pray that we learn contentment, wherever we are. I pray that not only will we rejoice when God's plan makes us happy, but that we all be able to close our eyes, and swallow God's portion when we don't really like what He's offering. Because even the gritty stuff is good for you...

Happy New Year!

But seriously, if you try the Miracle Juice, heat it up first: then it just might pass for russian tea :-) And I lost three pounds the first day :-D

Friday, December 28, 2007

Of Mice and Women

Isn’t it funny how one day can seem such a struggle to follow God, and other days it’s a breeze? How when you bless others, God often blesses you as well?

Peggy, a notoriously grumpy coworker of mine, had seen a knit toy mouse in a pattern book that I had, and she just fell in love. She made such a fuss over that picture in the book that I just had to make him for her, and so I did.



Yesterday I gave him to her. She was so excited! First she put that little guy next to her computer keyboard, and then she moved him to the shelf overlooking her workspace. Finally, she put him in the breast pocket of her lab coat! She positioned him just so, with his little paws and tail protruding, his tiny head peeking over the top. She made it a point to show him off everywhere she went.

She was obviously very pleased with her gift. That did my heart such good to see how happy that simple act made her.

So my friend Rhonda and I were having coffee and dessert last night, when Rhonda gave me her own gift at the beginning of the evening when she bought my coffee and torte. What a nice surprise! We discussed Peggy’s affinity for stamping and card-making, and how happy Rhonda was when she received a handmade Christmas card from her this year. We laughed about Peggy's reaction to her little mouse, and how she really isn't all that grumpy if you just pay her a little attention. She's a lonely widow with panic attacks, her daughter committed suicide, her son is "sowing his oats" after a divorce, and she is retiring from her lifelong laboratory career this spring. She's had a hard life, so I can understand where her miserable moods come from.

Most people tiptoe around her for fear of starting an argument. But I try to engage her. I don't know why. I've always gotten along with the more "difficult" personalities, and she is simply another one of them.

So what happened? This morning I found a hand-made “Thank You” card that Peggy had made for me herself. (I'd take a picture, but my husband has my camera at the other end of the state!) As I gushed over my beautiful card, I told her how much Rhonda had enjoyed the Christmas card she had given her this year. Again, Peggy was delighted, but this time by hearing how her card had impacted Rhonda. She said that it made her feel good to know that her efforts were appreciated.

Yes, Peggy. I know. It does feel good to know that you made a difference to someone. :-)

I know I'm often guilty of thinking that I have to be serving in a big, established ministry to be a servant of God. But the fact is, doing what you enjoy and sharing it with others in a way that shows them love and friendship is exactly what being a servant is all about

Take the time, and invest in someone's life. Learn their likes and dislikes. Listen to their funny stories and their heartbreaking ones, too. You'll be surprised at what kinds of things you can do easily for others, with no big ministry in sight, that make you a servant of Christ...

"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another." 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Blog is Experiencing Technical Difficulties...

I will try to repair my template tomorrow. I apologize for the weird appearance, but it won't cooperate right now :-(

The Leper at Christmas Dinner



Be Forewarned: This is a Long Post!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

This year, as I've mentioned before, I've felt kind of "Scrooge-y." I didn't want to shop, and I was so over all the hype. This year I really wanted to focus on the CHRIST part of Christmas, and not on all the other stuff people think it's about.

And I got to see Jesus this Christmas, right in my parents' house.

I'll just say it: we have more than one black sheep in our family. We don't have one skeleton, but a closet full of them. We aren't perfect. But thank God that we don't have to be, because He sacrificed His perfect Son for us!

And we forget that so easily. We forget to be good, to live as God asks us to because often that is hard, and uncomfortable. We shy away from the sinners, the troublemakers. It is even easier as Christians to forget that we are still sinners. We just happen to be forgiven ones.

I have a cousin who is one of those black sheep. For the past few years, he has spent Christmas with my family, because he doesn't have any other. His brother committed suicide after struggling with permanent paralysis from a motorcycle accident that they were both involved in. He discovered his alcoholic mother's body several days after she passed after climbing in her window when she wouldn't answer her locked door. He too, is an alcoholic, who lives in a camper by the river. His wife and daughter left him, and he has to work outdoors because his coworkers fear ignorantly that they can catch his hepatitis by being near him. He has spent time in prison, and sometimes goes by his brother's name to avoid being arrested on old warrants.

My cousin is a modern-day leper.

My mom invited him to join our Christmas dinner a few years ago, and he has invited himself in the years since. This, among other things, irritated her and others this year, but she was always gracious to him, serving him food and encouraging him to take more. I'm sure he is starving but he never takes much.

He reeks of liquor every time I see him. His face has aged much too quickly, but he still has the heart of a child, deep down. He calls me "ma'am" and minds his manners, and quietly watches all the festivities surrounding him. He is never intrusive, and goes almost unnoticed.

This year several aunts and uncles bought him clothes and necessities. The packages were not marked with his name, but they were under the tree, just like all the rest. He wasn't expecting them, I suppose, because his face lit up with surprise and delight when he was given three large bags, full of gifts.

My mom may have initially been annoyed at his presence, but she got over it. And she was able to be like Jesus to him. She reached out and showed him love. She was weary of hurrying at the last minute to include him, sending many of us scrambling to find gifts to give him. But still she made him feel welcome.

She touched the leper.

He was loaded down with leftovers, and driven home with much more than he came with. I hope he went back to his camper with that warm feeling of acceptance and love that we all seek. I pray that in that experience he sees hope, for a better way, a better life. I pray he recognizes that Jesus was there, right in our midst.

That feeling that I'm sure my cousin had that night? I want that. I want that every day. I want to remember every day that I disappoint God, that I am unworthy of any blessing, that I am still a sinner. Just like my cousin.

Then I want to remember that even though I am a dirty, smelly, disappointment in many ways, God doesn't grow tired of loving me. Of feeding me one more plate of food. Of clothing me, and placing a solid, warm roof over my head. I want to feel so blessed that my face lights up at the mere thought of it!

I am that blessed. So why is it so hard to remember?


Dear Lord, I am so unworthy of the blessings you shower down on me. Yet, You love me anyway. Help me to remember to reach out to others, to plant that seed that was once planted in me. Grow that seed Lord, so that others may see Your Glory through my obedience to You. Grow that seed in their hearts so that they may know You, too. God, let me reap the harvest of your blessings by strengthening me, not letting me grow weary, but instead letting me love someone like You would. And may You reap a harvest of souls, Lord, praising Your Holy name all the way...

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Real Christmas Story

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


Luke 2:1-20

I pray this Christmas you will personally experience the Good News of Great Joy: Our Savior, who is Christ the Lord...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Almost Didn't Survive This One

This little pretty nearly sent me over the edge:



Thankfully, the Lord apparently liked this chemotherapy hat and let me finish it, correcting all my many mistakes pretty easily. I hope this fits some lovely bald head. It'd be a shame for all that frustration to be for nothing :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Timing

I read this post recently, also titled "Day One," at Holy Experience about 21 days of no complaining. I thought, "Wow. I bet Jeff would like that for Christmas."

I read this post today about the manna jar and it made me think.

Also today, I got an email from my good friend Angie, reminding me of the "silver boxes" speech we heard at the Festival of Holidays this year. About your words only being used for encouraging and building up, like tiny silver gift boxes. She ran across it again while going a "30 Days of Encouraging your Husband" challenge.

All these posts and articles seem to have the same message for me.

Stop complaining.

Funny, I don't complain much to anyone but him. I'm afraid that he takes the brunt of my frustrations. And it's not fair, and it's taking a toll.

Our marriage isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. But the hopeless romantic in me wants my husband to give me the "googly-eyes" look that he used to. To see his eyes light up and a smile on his face more often when he sees me. I've wished for a revival of sorts in our marriage, and this challenge came at just the right time. So, I won't ignore God's timing. He knows best.

So, I'm game. Let's go.

During this challenge, I cannot say anything bad about or to him.

I will undoubtedly require some prayer to get me through this. :-)

Today then, is Day One...

Prayer Request

I'd like to ask all you readers to please say a prayer for Dylan. He's a friend of my oldest son, and is very close to my ex-husband's family. He was badly burned recently and is now in a burn center for his injuries. He's 10 years old, and could most certainly use all of our prayers...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas,Wordless Wednesday Style



"The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:10-11

The Life that began in a scene similar to this, but much less glamorous, should truly leave us "wordless..."

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yes, it's been quiet around here.

Yes, the blog has been quiet. Here's why:



I was finishing this guy for my latest charity knit, the Mother Bear Project. I hope to return to actual writing in the next day or so. :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

He Did It!

(Parents of Little Ones: Sing to the Tune of "We Did It" from Dora the Explorer)

He led us to the land and we bought it right away.
Oh He did it! He did it! He did it! Yay!
He provided even more and we didn't have to pay.
Oh He did it! He did it! He did it! Yay!
Now there's money in the bank and there's only Him to thank!
Oh He did it! He did it! He did it! Yay!

Our land "swap" is finally over! Our church closed on our new property yesterday, after what seems an eternity! So we now own ?? acres, completely debt-free, and got a nice amount of money in the bank account, too.

Praise you Lord, for you are faithful. You led us through a time of patience, but as always You were the Provider of all we need. I pray now Lord that we will move ahead according to Your agenda and not our own. Equip us to do Your works, and bring glory to your Holy Name!! Amen!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday



O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who Doesn't Love Free Stuff in December?

We interrupt this blog you bring you the latest news: 5 Minutes for Mom is having a giveaway for $200 to spend at True Jeans!

I've heard about these guys, but I'm too cheap to spend big bucks on jeans, although they are my favorite article of clothing! But if you're giving me $200 to spend, then get outta my way!

This is a great giveaway, and if you win it's either a great Christmas gift for someone, or even for yourself! Head on over and check it out...

NOTE: If you don't see any links, click on "5 Minutes for Mom" for the giveaway and click on "True Jeans" for the company web site. My Christmas layout does strange things to my links :-)

My pics won't upload today either. Sorry :-(

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ahh, a nice relaxing weekend. Just the cure for brain fog.

This weekend has been a relaxing one. Thank goodness! I think the brain fog might finally be lifting a bit.

Yesterday, I stayed in my PJ's until 3pm. I finished knitting a little ornament for our lab Christmas tree:



and I finally embroidered this eyeglasses case that I made ages ago:




I think I want to put a liner in it, so I'm not putting it in my Etsy shop just yet.

Then my hubby and I went to a Christmas party thrown by my broker-in-charge Rhonda at Easy Realty. They're a fun group of people and we had a good time and a good meal. Nice.

Today, we (Jeff really) taught a small group at church with 14 people. Awesome! Then we designated ourselves as "Power Point" pray-ers for the service. Let me just say that I love to hear my husband pray. Definitely a gift!

After a soup and sandwich lunch, we all went bowling. We had a blast! We took a few pictures, but they may not make it here. Or anywhere. Ever. They are either blurry or shots of our various backsides :-) Not really what you want to see, I assure you.

Next up: Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and my favorite football team, the Indianapolis Colts as the Sunday night game. A win would be the perfect ending to a pretty perfect weekend.

Thank you, Lord, for slowing down the pace of my life just a bit so I can enjoy it...

Right On, Sister...

Click here for this post that is speakin' my language! (the link is not underlined) I have found myself with this mindset about Christmas this year, and frankly, I hope you do too...

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Friday Funny

My foggy brain even let me laugh out loud at this one. Have I ever mentioned that I love Beth Moore? And not just because she has a cool name :-)

Beth Moore's post

A Little Miscellaneous Post

OK. I just haven't had much time to blog lately. Or much else it seems! It probably wouldn't make much sense right now anyway. My brain seems to be shrink-wrapped these days: nothing getting out, nothing going in. I kinda feel like I'm in a void. I read my daily Bible stuff, and five minutes later I can't tell you what I just read. I only seem to be able to focus on what is right in front of me at any given moment, and even then not for long.

My brain has gone on strike with the writers, I guess. So please come back another day if I totally lose you and make no sense at all. :-)

I'm not stressed about Christmas. Really. I'm more indifferent. Not to Christmas. Just to the materialistic money-sucker it's been turned into by the world. In my opinion, Christmas would be better with NO presents :-) We'd just celebrate God's gift to us, and that would be that. I just don't want to shop this year. I have only bought like two presents, and we won't discuss how many I need to buy...

The cookie swap was fine. The pinwheels were good, even though they were a little soft when they warmed to room temperature. The wreaths were good, too. They were certainly the most discussed, but strangely the least eaten. Everyone I actually saw with one liked it, so go figure?! I came home with lots of cookies that I totally didn't need. So my family has decided to save me from all those empty calories, and they are eating some of them before I get to them and put myself into a sugar-induced coma...

I just finished a pair of mittens for charity. That's something good! They're small kids size, black wool for the Soaring Eagles Project. I can't decide if I should add a snowflake or something unisex on them or just let them be.




What do you think? The deadline to get them in is the 17th...

(PS: I hope to return to a normal, kinda-maybe-makes-sense-post soon!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Great Cookie Swap Disaster

'Twas time for the cookie swap and all through the night
I mixed and I stirred making tasty delights.

Wax paper was spread on the counter with care
awaiting the yummy goodies that would soon be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds (though they wouldn't stay there)while visions of accolades danced in my head.

I was in the kitchen, Dad was out for the night
and my pinwheel layers weren't turning out right.

There in the bowl I had not dough, but batter.
I needed to call Mom to see what was the matter.

Away to the phone I flew like a flash
hoping she'sd know how to rescue this batch...


Mom had made this recipe at Christmas before. We've never been very close, so I thought this would be a bonding moment, as I looked to her to help me carry on a "tradition" of hers.

"Hey mom. I'm making this pinwheels you make at Christmas for a cookie swap, and I have a question."

"Those aren't cookies. They're candy."

"Whatever they are, I'm making them and they're too runny. It's supposed to be like dough."

"Why are you making those? They never turned out right. I don't make those."

"Yes you did, mom. I remember them, and I thought they were good."

"Well, I only made them once or twice and I never liked how they turned out. Why don't you make..."

blah, blah, blah...

blah, blah, blah...

She did eventually offer a bit of sage kitchen knowledge. I added a little flour, rolled them out just a bit to see what would happen, and put them in the fridge overnight.



They set up a little. Enough to spread the peanut butter on them anyway. They sat all night after rolling, so I cut them this afternoon. They "melt" as they warm up. If they don't stay refrigerated, I'm afraid they'll just be a gooey, sticky mess. (*Sigh*) I'm hoping for the best...(another long, sad *Sigh*)



So I also decided to make these Christmas wreath treats that my ex-husband's aunt made every year. Those could have been my ENTIRE Christmas meal, and it would have been fine. YUM!

I have never made them before, but basically they're are rice krispy treats with corn flakes instead. Add green food coloring...



...mold into wreaths (without turning yourself green or sticking to everything in the kitchen.) Add red dots and VOILA!!



Of course they stuck to the wax paper I made them on :-(

(One more *Sigh*.) Why did I sign up for this cookie swap again?

Wordless Wednesday



Eli just isn't too sure about his brothers sometimes :-)

Happy WW!

Monday, December 3, 2007

FINALLY!!

OK, here it is: the first issue of our church magazine, The Compass!! (Yours truly is the editor)

What a labor of love :-) I'm pretty proud, I must say. My writers and graphic designer ROCK!

Go to Pinnacle Church and click on "The Compass" in the center, or click the image below to go straight to it...

Enjoy!

The Compass

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thankful for a Special Six Year Old


November 29, 2007: Today, my middle son turns six. It seems like just yesterday that he was saying "ku-wai" (screwdriver) and "hi-tactee" (helicopter), and pointing to ANY light and screeching "eeeeeee-Light!"

Aaron surprised us with his arrival. I was induced 4 and a half weeks early because I had HELLP syndrome, where my blood pressure skyrocketed, my liver was freaking out and my platelet count was dropping. The only "cure" is delivery, so we almost got a Thanksgiving baby instead of a Christmas one!

We had tried so hard to have him in the first place. Tests, treatments, fertility drugs - finally we got our little man. Jeff's first child, the long-awaited sibling of my son, and the answer to many prayers.

He was tough from the beginning. He weighed less than 5 pounds with his early arrival and all, but he never went to the intensive care unit or had any special treatment. He was fine, with the minor exception of being a hard-head during his hearing test. :-) We survived a few unnecessary scares, and went home after 2 days.

He has always been inquisitive, more interested in how his toys were assembled than in actually playing with them. I said he would be an engineer :-) And his incredible brain (comes from me!) just astounds us every day. We can't spell things we don't want him to hear anymore - he can figure out what we're saying. He's reading first grade books in kindergarten, and his coloring and drawing skills foreshadow an interest in art.

He has his moments of smart-mouth attitude, but can be the sweetest thing, too. He is precious, and God has blessed me abundantly by letting me borrow him from heaven for a little while.

Happy Birthday, Aaron. I love you bunches!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Still Thankful!!

Today, I have lots of thanks. I'm thankful for the smell of freshly fallen and slightly damp leaves. Just smells like autumn! I'm thankful for prescriptions that cure strep throat (what my husband somehow contracted). I'm thankful for finishing a test knitting project that I promised Firefairy I would do.




And I'm thankful for winning blog contests! I won this contest celebrating Gnat's 100th post. I get some cool knitting Christmas cards! Yay me!

And I'm thankful that today I finally have a day off...

Monday, November 26, 2007

What a weekend!

OK, so I've been absent for a few days. I had to work this weekend, and frankly I'm just beat. One more day to go, and then I get a day off. Yea!

I have still been thankful, and God has heard. I just haven't posted here. I still don't have much time, so I'll just hit the highlights of the past few days:

I'm thankful for my oldest son, and how he's growing. He was praised for his "fathering" skills by total strangers, for watching his brothers at the Appalachian State football game. I guess he was being watched by an older couple sitting behind them. He was also "in charge" Sunday while my hubby was sick in bed and I was at work. HE EVEN HAD TO CLEAN UP POOP! My 3 year old still won't do that in the potty, and big bro got to handle it. I LOVE IT!! Somehow he has escaped diaper duty all these years. He'd NEVER changed a diaper until now. Hahaha!!

So right now, I'll close by saying thank you Lord for my oldest son, Michael. A little rain. A good weekend at work, if there is such a thing. And sleep. I'm thankful in advance for sleep...and thankful in advance for my husband's healing so he'll stop whining :-)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Birthday Thanks

November 23, 2007: Today I am giving thanks for one thing: my wonderful husband, Jeff. Today is his #*th birthday (he doesn't like getting older!)

God put him in my life at a time when I had no one left. My parents were there for me, but not in a way that I needed. I was going through a divorce, as was Jeff. I was about as far away from God as you could get. At that time, it had been years since I had darkened the doorway of a church or lifted a prayer. My last, and best, friend had abandoned me, because I was so miserable that she "just couldn't take it anymore." Thanks. I didn't learn THAT until years later...

So here I was, the full-time working mother of a beautiful 4 year old boy, trying to learn how to be alone. I had never lived alone my whole life, never completely responsible for myself.

The first time I laid eyes on Jeff, my heart just pounded. Funny now looking back how God was confirming my direction! I'll just say that we "clicked" right away, and neither of us ever looked back. He truly is a soul mate for me, however corny that sounds.

We eventually began going to church together, and for the first time, maybe ever, I looked forward to it. We were married there almost 2 years after we began dating. That day I not only gained a special man to be my husband, but an even more special man to be stepfather to my son. He's taken him all over the East coast to baseball games on "boys-only" trips. They enjoy their time together. He truly is a father to Michael and loves him like his own, and for that, I couldn't be more grateful.

Of course, he's also an amazing father to our own two sons. (Except for teaching them the App. State fight song. Enough already :-)) Those boys adore their daddy, and he just does things for and with them that makes my heart smile. We are all very blessed to have Jeff in our lives.

So, today I am most thankful for that sweet, amazing man who doesn't look a day over 29 :-)

Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I love you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A New Way to Think About Thanksgiving

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Cornucopias overflowing with harvest treasures serve as centerpieces, little handprints serve as turkey bodies in preschool artwork, and everyone is thinking, “How much food should I cook this year?”
When Thanksgiving rolls around, we think about, well, giving thanks. We often reflect on the past year, and focus on the good things that have been present in our lives. We are grateful for our families, maybe for a new job, or even just happy to have the day off from work.

My boss shared a story with me that turned my Thanksgiving thinking upside down. While a woman named Elaine sat in church one day, she felt that God was telling her, “Thank me for saving your father.” She was confused, since her dad was not a saved man. But again, she felt that God was asking her to praise Him for saving her father. It was a big step, because Elaine had a very strained relationship with her dad.

Eventually, Elaine just decided to step out in faith and do what God asked. So she praised God for saving her father. But he wasn’t saved that night. Or that week, or that month. But that man was eventually saved, a short time before his death. And his daughter Elaine, the one who had praised God, was the very one God used to lead him to salvation.

My boss’s own daughter Kristy was actively seeking a job in a new town, and trying valiantly to stay positive after several months of unemployment. My boss was praying hard for a job for her oldest child. Kristy reminded her mom of Elaine’s story, and decided to thank God in advance, for the job He would provide for her.

Within days, Kristy had a call from a company she had applied to, asking for an interview. The job description read as if had been written just for her. She met all the criteria. The benefits included tuition reimbursement. (Graduate school is what had prompted this move in the first place!) And one of the people who would be interviewing her? It was none other a previous employer, from a huge city, eight hours away.

I am glad to report that she is now working at that job, as a testimony to God’s grace.

What it boils down to is exactly what Hebrews 11 describes: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Thanking God in advance is saying to Him, “I know that You are going to provide this. I know that You will answer this prayer. I know that You will make a way.” Elaine took a step in faith. Donna did, as well. Praising God before we get blessed is living by faith. Isn’t that what God wants for us?

So, let’s put a different spin on Thanksgiving this year. Instead of just being thankful for things in the past, let’s praise God for the blessings yet to come!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Where's Rudolph?

Rudolph ran off and needs to be found before Christmas Eve.
He is hiding in EtsyMom shops.
When you purchase the item with Rudolph, you will receive a free gift. Prizes vary from shop to shop, so please see the item description for prize details.
Santa can't leave the North Pole without him, so please hurry!
Search for EtsyMomRudolph at Etsy.com

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Gratitude

November 19, 2007: I am thankful for those who answer God's call to the mission field. For those who heed God's messages, and obey what God has asked (I'll miss you, Karolee!). For showing my husband what a blog is :-) And for soft, warm comforters to hopefully catch some sleep under tonight...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Good Sunday

November 18, 2007: Today, I am very thakful. For a church that loves on its members. Where small groups form just when and where they're needed. Where acknowledging our pastor can leave him speechless. That he finds my little blog enjoyable enough to put on his blog as a "favorite." :-) Which leads to hearing from an old friend VERY unexpectedly.

I am thankful for warm, homemade chili with lots of onions and cheese. And fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies.

For kids who say the most unexpected things that make you laugh when you shouldn't. For kids that I often wonder what God was thinking when He picked me to be their mother. For kids on a sugar-rush from said fresh cookies who run wildly around the house screaming jibberish and laughing :-)

And for my football team just barely squeaking out a win, when it should have been easy :-/

My Latest Charity Knitting Project (still in production)




OK, here's my newest Givin' Knit Away project: a brown boy bear for the Mother Bear Project. The Mother Bear Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children, primarily those affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of hand-knit and crocheted bears.

You can buy the pattern on their website for a $5 donation, or it can be found in the book Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen.

My little guy is brown, with an off-white seed stitch sweater and blue trousers. I hope my embroidery skills can actually produce a cute face for him! My plans are to make a little sister for him, wearing a skirt instead of pants. We'll see if all the finishing for him causes burnout and leaves him as an only child:-)

I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Silly (to you) Saturday Thanks

**PLEASE EXCUSE THE SILLY NATURE OF THS POST**

November 17, 2007: I am thankful for shiny sink faucets that I can see my reflection in. For toilets with no rings. Bathtubs with no "ick." Sparkling canisters. An empty kitchen sink. Clean rugs. Folded laundry. Sorted/discarded toys. Making headway on turning the nursery into a playroom! Because all that means that I had the day off, and that I have a roof over my head!

Can you guess what we did today? :-)

And Nyquil. Thank God for Nyquil...

Another contest, for the boys (probably!)

Like Spiderman? Then check this giveaway out on 5 Minutes for Mom!

Cute Give-away for Girls



Here's a quick and easy giveaway from Bonnie. Happy 200th Post!
November 15, 2007: I am thankful for the abundance of food You have blessed us with, as we remember that not everyone is so lucky. I am thankful for a church that fellowships and celebrates Thanksgiving together. For spending time with friends. For the crackle of a real fire, the smell of wood smoke, the soothing heat that emanates from the hearth...

I am thankful for funny three year olds who ask to hear "Miss Tomwin" (aka Chris Tomlin) and "Deremy Tamp" (aka Jeremy Camp). Future worship leader? :-)

November 16, 2007: I am thankful once again for God's provision, in the form of a house sold. Truly an answered prayer!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Few More Thanks

November 13, 2007: I am thankful to have a good job, that helps keep a warm roof over my head...

November 14, 2007: I am thankful for my small group and the people in it. I am thankful for learning new things and being useful at work...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Veteran's Day Thanks

November 12, 2007: I am thankful that my husband has been such a great stepfather, and bonds with my son so well. I am thankful for brothers playing football in the yard. I am thankful for unexpected surprises!

And this Veteran's Day, I am thankful for all the servicemen and women who gave their lives for my freedom. For those serving right now, to protect me and my family. Thank you Lord, for the brave soldiers who fight for our country...

Monday, November 12, 2007

SOLD!!


I just have to share my virtual happy dance here: I just got my first sale in my Etsy shop today! I joined the Etsy Christian Artist Street Team (CAST), Etsy Moms, and Etsy Bloggers this weekend and, VOILA! Not that they are necessarily related, but...

Now I can shop! I promised myself no new knitting books or yarn until I sold something. I listed my first item several weeks ago, and I SURVIVED! Woo Hoo!

And no, I probably won't post a "Yippee" every time I have a sale, unless they're all several weeks apart. Maybe then :-)

Real Thanks

November 11, 2007: I am thankful that I am a member of a church who practices acceptance, and not merely preaches it.

Our small group was just about to end in prayer when a stranger with a tattoo on his forehead asked timidly if he could join us. Without batting an eye, everyone at the table shook his hand, introduced themselves, and asked what prayers we could raise up for him.

A few moments later, our service began. The topic? Acceptance.

I truly believe that he felt accepted, both by us and by our Lord. He went to the front of the church and got on bended knee during the altar call. What did he pray? I don't know. But that gentleman felt God's hand on him, and witnessing it moved me to tears.

Thank you Lord, that he was able to find you here...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Saturday Full of Things to Be Thankful For

November 10, 2007: Today I am thankful for our cold and blustery day that kept us indoors. I spent the whole day with my two youngest sons, and we played games, and watched movies, and ate junk - all day. It was great! I was a good mommy - no spanking, no yelling, and no one getting sent to their rooms. My kids, for a change, were angels. We stayed in our pajamas all day...

And to top it off, the kids are sitting quietly at the dining room table, coloring The Incredible Hulk and Batman. My five year old is a perfectionist,and his pictures are amazing. He stays inside the lines, and his strokes are even. Beautiful. (Yes, even the Hulk can be beautiful :-)) His baby brother, at 3, is standing in the chair, furiously scribbling with his black crayon on every page. His blond hair sways as he moves, and he is wearing only one sock. He is just too cute!

Today Lord, thank you for letting things be slow, quiet and good. Thank you for my children...

Thanks for the Unexpected

November 9, 2007: Today I am thankful for unexpected gifts - a free ticket to see Florence Littauer at my mother church, Biltmore Baptist Church with a "new" friend I'd like to know better. I am thankful for learning new things about Angie and her family, and the opportunity to grow closer to her. I have had very few friends since my first marriage collapsed, and have prayed for God to give me new ones. I believe He may be anwering that prayer now. I am thankful for seeing old friends. I am also thankful for a "ladies night out." I am thankful that God cares enough about me to be obviously giving me a lesson in encouragement, since that topic was EVERYWHERE I went this week :-) Now I pray that He will open my eyes and ears to receive His mesage...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thankful Thursday

November 8, 2007: I'm thankful for a good dentist. An occasional entertaining TV show. And mostly, for an encouraging God who shows up when I need him most. In the form of cloud crosses flanked by rainbows on sunny days, to remind me that He is there, and that He always keeps His promises. Who but God can do that?

Look How I Got Thanked!



In this time of giving thanks, I wanted to brag a bit and share how someone thanked me. My buddy Karolee sent me this lovely card, drawn by her 16 year old DD1. Isn't that awesome?

She is a multitalented girl, and you can read her mom bragging about her right here...

Thanks Karolee and DD1!

Mid-Week Thanks

November 7, 2007: I am thankful for the sun warming my car on a cold, blustery day. For George Strait music at work :-) For a small group to fellowship with. For clear, starry skies. And for real estate agents :-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Check out these birds! A friend emailed me this yesterday...



May the bluebird of happiness smile upon you today! (Or something like that!)

A Thankful Tuesday

November 6, 2007: I am thankful that God's provision allows my family to sponsor a little girl through Compassion International. That in her sweet six year old way she covets our prayers, asking us in her last letter to "pray for God to touch her daddy." That her family seems to be safe from the flooding and devastation in Mexico. That my family is safe, warm and dry. That our faithful God provided a job for a faithful Daughter. That my education was put to good use at work today. For a husband that will honestly critique my writing without making me feel bad :-/ And I'm thankful that my mother-in-law made us homemade apple pie today :-)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Monday Thanks

November 5, 2007: I am thankful that the time change now lets me have my morning sunrise on my daily commute again. For 80's and 90's music that makes me fondly remember the past. For good conversation with my mother-in-law. That I wasn't harassed mercilessly at work because the Colts lost last night. For a boss who appreciates me. For kids that make me smile and laugh. For that sweet smile my husband gives me that says he's truly happy to see me...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sunday Thanks

November 4, 2007: Today I am thankful for the glorious appearance of our Lord in our worship service this morning. I love it when He comes to our worship service :-) I am thankful for finally finishing projects started long ago. I am thankful for satisfying meals and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. And I'm thankful that the Colts-Patriots game was a close one, even though my team lost. It will only make them stronger :-)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Today I'm thankful for...

November 2, 2007: I was thankful for a better day at work. That it was Friday. That my middle son is losing some of his bad attitude and becoming recognizable again. That there is still some fall color to enjoy for one more weekend...

November 3, 2007: I am thankful for a quiet house this morning, allowing me to pray and write. For hot showers, with water from a well that isn't dry yet. For beautiful, cloudless fall days...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm Giving Thanks




Recently you may have noticed that this blog has become a big contest factory and Wordless Wednesday post. Those will still be here. But I have been somewhat lacking in anything, well, uplifting, to say.

Stress levels are high in my house for a plethora of reasons. Most days I deal with it OK. Lately, though, it seems to be catching up with me. Today I have described myself to others as an old grouch. We had to put our dog of 16 years to sleep yesterday, my five-year old got terrified at a CHURCH trunk-or-treat (scary things just don't belong there!) and couldn't enjoy our outing, and work responsibilities (that I don't necessarily actually have) just got to me today.

It was quite timely to see Leah's post today. My life could always be worse. MUCH worse. My life is actually pretty darn good. I think sometimes I want things to seem wrong to feel more normal, like I don't have enough problems or something.

So, this month I am going to make it a point to recognize something I am thankful for every day. Hopefully it will become a habit! :-)

November 1, 2007: I am thankful that God has gifted me a little with the ability to write. That was confirmed today when I won a "Highly Commended" rating on a story that I wrote for a Faithwriters Writing Challenge. I pray that God will continue to affirm that calling, and use me to bring Him glory...

(If you are interested, it was called "At Water's Edge" in the Beginner level "Christian Baptism" challenge. I think you can search by name, too.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Finished Charity Project!




I didn't think I would actually make it this month, but I did it! Even if it is a very plain and simple pattern.

This is a Chemotherapy Hat in Bernat's Bamboo yarn, and the pink color is called "Lotus." If you haven't tried bamboo yet, do! It is so soft you just can't believe that it's really bamboo. But, it is very fuzzy! I hope it doesn't unravel. When I added the second ball, the thread wrapped around the yarn was free and it just turned into FUZZ that kept coming off. I actually tinked a few stitches just to get some firm yarn to weave in.

Win an iPod Nano!



Photo from contest post on It's Write Now

Like I've said before, I'm a sucker for a good contest. And a free iPod Nano qualifies! So go to Win an iPod Nano to see about it on It's Write Now!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Not much happenin' here...

Most everyone in my house feels "blah." Hubby feels drained, kids are tired, and I have to work at the hospital this weekend. I'm just tired,too. But at least the week-long headache finally went away! Just makes you want to close your eyes and sleep...

Not many brainwaves here! But I did manage to finish this Oz vest (newborn size), after some tinking and deep breathing:



May I just say that I hate picking up neckline stitches, and three-needle bind-offs? I do.

May I say that I LOVE finished objects? I do.

May I also say that wandering around SAFF for hours is therapeutic, even if you don't buy that really expensive Tilli Thomas yarn that you drooled over? It is.

Here's hoping you have a relaxing, non-brain-draining weekend! (and if you knit, filled with yummy yarns and finished objects :-))

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

My five-year-old took the third picture.
My three-year-old took the fourth picture! I know it's awful, but kinda funny!




Saturday, October 20, 2007

OK, shameless plug here...

I've gone and done it. I opened an Etsy shop for my knitted things that I don't give away. I'm linking to it in my sidebar, so check it out, and pass it on!

A Heart's Desire Fulfilled

I don't think there is a mom alive who, at least once, thought, "I am the worst mother ever." Can I get an "Amen?"

I have really been struggling lately, in general, but especially with my five year old. I won't go there now. I could write all day! But the whole parenting thing has had me thinking.

My dear friend Linda had two handsome teenage sons when I first met her. I was always struck by how they hugged her, and seemed to WANT to be around her. Even in public. And I remembered thinking to myself, "I hope Michael is like that when he gets older."

What? Teenage boys willing to be seen in PUBLIC with their mom? And showing AFFECTION? Must have been a dream...

Well, I've been thinking about my own teenage son. He was only four when his dad and I divorced, and of course I feel guilty over how that may have affected him. Somehow I always feel like I'm a bad mom to him. I was driving in the car the other day, just thinking random thoughts, and I remembered a book title that I had recently seen that basically said "realizing that you already have what you thought you wanted."

And it hit me. I could see my sweet teen hugging me when he gets home. Hugging me goodnight. Putting his head on my shoulder when we stand in the kitchen.

I HAVE that sweet teenage boy who hugs his mom, and wants to be around her. I was very far from God when I first witnessed this with Linda and her boys. But our faithful God heard me, even then in the midst of my wandering. Now, ten years later, He has blessed me with just what I wanted.



How great is our God who took ten years to fulfill a heart's desire, but who also timed it so that it would encourage a troubled mother's soul...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I didn't have a choice. I just had to do it!

I thought I was past this, but I guess I'm not. Yet.

I don't quite obsess over my reader numbers like I once did, but it's hard for an over-achiever like me to not "see" success. I realized that even if I have thousands of readers, God may be using my blog to reach only one person. And looking at all the numbers in the world just won't tell me that.

With all the writing I have as an editor, and duties as a wife and mother, I just don't have time to waste focusing on junk that doesn't matter. I feel like I was trying to blog just to keep up my numbers (like I have more than 4 readers anyway!)

So, my counters are all deleted. Know why?

God asked me to.

I resisted a little. Maybe I can just promise to only look on the first of the month, or only on Saturday, etc. But then I said, "Nope. God didn't say 'stop looking so much.' He said, 'Get rid of it.'"

So, I did. I pushed that "delete" key. My hope is that maybe one day, God will tell me that it's OK to look. And I want to see the big numbers that God brought because I was obedient when He told me to "get rid of it."

Isn't it silly all the crazy ways Satan can try to trip us up?

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Peaceful Sunday

Yesterday started as a crisp fall morning, with a beautiful sky:


(Must.Look.Straight.Up.For.This.Shot.-Tall-Trees!)

Church was good, the and the temperatures had warmed nicely by the end of the service. We came home for lunch, and decided that it was just too nice to stay indoors. So we took the boys to play putt-putt. It was a very close game. Even my five year old was making par! We all had at least one hole-in-one, but mine got me this:





Funny thing was, we had just used one of those that my husband had earned to get in!

Anyway, afterwards we just weren't ready to go home, so we drove out to the area where my husband is framing a house for someone. I had never been out that way, and boy! had I been missing out on some of God's most impressive creations! Truly breathtaking...open fields, red barns, streams, mountains rising up right in front of your eyes. Mountain coves with stunning views from every angle. And the leaves just barely beginning to turn a pale gold.

One child was sleeping, the other two were quiet. It was very relaxing. Just what I like!

I discovered that my husband and I both are experiencing a longing for wide open spaces. We love our house, and the setting is beautiful. But it's a shady, leafy kind of beautiful. With moss for grass, and very little yard at all. Very serene, though. We are indeed blessed.

But we have three sons. Who like to play football and baseball in the yard, and ride bikes and be little boys. And that is hard where we are now. But property is SOOOOOO outrageous here, we can't afford those wide open spaces. Not without winning the lottery!

So, we will continue to take peaceful Sunday afternoon drives and enjoy riding by those wide open spaces, until God makes a way for us to live on them, if that is His will...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thank You, Lord



Thank you, Lord, for crisp fall mornings that make you want to stay snuggled beneath the covers.

Thank you, Lord, for the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee that draws me out from under them.

Thank you, Lord, for the warmth and satisfaction that comes taking that first sip.

Thank you, Lord, for a quiet Saturday morning to reflect on Your goodness.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Do you see something in my eye?


I get bent out of frame when my contributors don't submit their newsletter stories on time. The original deadline was the 24th for ministry leaders and the first for writers.

I think I finished my article tonight...

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"
Matthew 7:3

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